UVU baseball: Goose Kallunki a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist

By Clint Burgi

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, May 29 2012 4:44 p.m. MDT

OREM, Utah -- Utah Valley University senior Goose Kallunki has been named a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, as announced Tuesday by USA Baseball. The award, currently in its 35th year, is presented to the nation's top amateur baseball player.

Kallunki, an Orem native, is coming off a monster season and currently leads the country in RBIs with 86 and was tops in the Great West Conference in home runs with a school-record 18. His .419 batting average was good for second in the GWC and fifth in the nation. Kallunki was also among the national leaders in slugging (.734), OPS (1.215), hits (96) and total bases (168).

Such statistical output earned the Wolverine first basemen GWC Player of the Year honors and a spot on the All-Conference First Team. Kallunki has also been named a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, an award given to the top player in collegiate baseball by the National College Baseball Writers Association.

Kallunki was an instrumental piece to a UVU club that won its third consecutive GWC championship behind a flawless record in league play, putting together a 32-game win streak, and earned the program's first-ever national ranking. The Wolverines concluded 2012 ranked atop the country in wins (47), team batting (.350), runs (532), RBIs (481), slugging (.523) and on-base percentage (.436).

GoldenSpikesAward.com -- powered by MLB.com -- will be the online home for the award. The website features content devoted exclusively to the GSA, including news, voting history, past winner photo galleries and photographs and video highlights for the 2012 semifinalists. Fans can follow online at GoldenSpikesAward.com as the list of 30 players is narrowed to three finalists on Tuesday, June 5.

For the second year in a row, the GSA will be awarded live on MLB Network. On Friday, July 6, the three finalists will be at MLB Network's studios for the presentation on The Rundown, which will feature interviews, video highlights and the announcement of the winner. The presentation will also be simulcast live on GoldenSpikesAward.com and MLB.com.

In 2007, USA Baseball instituted a new selection and balloting procedure for the most prestigious award in amateur baseball, and it will follow the same model again in 2012. After working closely with sports information directors and amateur baseball media across the country to determine watch lists and the top-performing athletes, a committee voted to determine the 30 semifinalists. A ballot featuring the names and accomplishments of the 30 semifinalists will now be sent to a group of more than 215 voters which will select the three finalists and eventual winner. Beginning today fans will also be able to vote on the 2012 GSA by visiting GoldenSpikesAward.com and selecting their favorite amateur player.

"USA Baseball congratulates each of the 30 student-athletes and their respective baseball programs," said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO. "The move to MLB Network last year was a significant step toward increasing exposure for the award among players, schools and fans, and we look forward to building on that excitement for 2012. We wish all of the semifinalists the best of luck."

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